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The Detainee by Peter Liney

The Detainee

by Peter Liney

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The Detainee by Peter Liney is a highly recommended dystopian thriller.

Before he was sent to the island Clancy, also known as "Big Guy," worked as a heavy for Mr. Meltoni. Now he is old, 63, and an Island Detainee. The Island is really just a huge garbage pile four miles long, three across and a little over a mile offshore. At one time it was a residential island, but at some point someone decided it was the ideal place to start offloading the Mainland’s waste. It is also where the old and have no means of support are sent are sent to have one last chance to become self-sufficient. What those who make all the rules while living behind their fortified walls on the mainland are saying is survive or die.

"But there are thousands of us out here. Mostly old people, those with no money, who once might’ve thought they’d be taken care of. However, no one takes care of you anymore. You either survive or die, simple as that. Sure as hell the State don’t. They can’t afford to look after anyone. And do you know who they say’s to blame? Not incompetent and corrupt politicians, not those pigs gorging themselves down at the stock exchange trough, but us. Old people. Old people ’cuz we got too old. As if we had a choice."

He and the other old folks have built a village where their shelters are made of plastic and whatever discarded items they can find. The satellite policing keeps them on the island. It is a laser that doles out punishment based on the crime. The roots of its development were surveillance cameras. Now the laser keeps them on the island and punishes anyone with anything that might resemble a weapon.

Surviving on the garbage pile isn't what Clancy is concerned about. He and every other old person on the island is scared of the fog because when the fog rolls in the satellite policing, can't work. And when the satellites can't work the kids come out. These kids are the drugged up garbage urchins who sort the trash for the Wastelords. They come out with machetes in a drug frenzy on foggy nights and go crazy killing and maiming, hacking old people to death without mercy or conscience.

One night, while trying to escape a murderous gang of kids, Clancy discovers a secret that might just provide him with the safety and hope he needs to survive and perhaps be the impetus for something even bigger.

I will readily admit that at first I wasn't sold on Clancy as the narrator of The Detainee. I though his sometimes meandering, self-pitying lack of confidence would begin to irritate me; actually the opposite happened. I warmed up to him and accepted all of his self-esteem issues. Once the larger issues in this society became more clear the story took over.

Currently all the spying on everyone via surveillance cameras (or the internet) the idea of punishment satellites doesn't seem so far-fetched. And with parents becoming more permissive, the eventual collapse of a society where out-of-control children were paid to be good could quickly turn into a society that blames the old people for everything - especially when the financial structure collapses due to the aging population. It is a horrifying but logical next step to eliminate the older and weaker members of a society in order to protect the greater good of the ruling class. Once that ideological/societal hurdle was crossed, it was much easier to get caught up in the characters and the action.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Random House for review purposes. ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
I've seen some reviewers call THE DETAINEE a 'thriller' but it doesn't fall into the category for me. Not that it wasn't without suspense, but it seemed like a book heavily rooted in the exploration of the human experience, the power of individual people, and personalities.

It certainly was dystopic, and I loved the beginning where Liney sets down the political thinking that led to this particular nightmare. (You don't have to go farther than some of the garbage coming out of the House of Representatives. Morons.)

I thought the book could have been shorter. Then again, I think almost every book these days could be shorter. Something to take into consideration.

The writing is interesting and that's why I liked this book. Clancy, as the Big Guy, is sometimes called, is the narrator and his semi-mobster mentality is consistent throughout the entire book and I loved his view of the world. It was so appropriate to the story, and really, quite endearing. In fact, I liked all four of the adult characters. Each was well drawn, with a clear sense of their past, and who they are now.

Where I had a problem was in how the story got to it's end point. The events were unbelievable, and the change in character of the children was not something I could imagine actually taking place. I wanted that to be true but I seriously doubt that any one so abused would respond to kindness so quickly.

If you can get your suspension-of-disbelief pushed up into high, I think you'll find THE DETAINEE to be a very enjoyable and refreshing story. If you can't quite accomplish that, then THE DETAINEE is still a book you ought to read for the enjoyment of the voice and how Peter Liney spins his new dystopian future. ( )
  PamFamilyLibrary | Apr 1, 2014 |
I was really, really hooked by the premise of The Detainee. I've been in the mood for a good, gritty, adult post-apocalyptic book and, having read Traci Slatton's work in the more recent past, I really wanted to get a fix of the genre before her next book releases. I'm impatient like that sometimes. So The Detainee by Peter Liney looked like it just might satisfy my craving and, for the most part, it definitely did.

Read the rest of this review at The Lost Entwife on March 31, 2014. ( )
  TheLostEntwife | Mar 24, 2014 |
The Detainee by Peter Liney - People who are a drain on the economy are permanently exiled to an island of trash that was built offshore from the city. This includes the elderly who need government financial aid and/or government medical care, children whose parents cannot or will not support them, veterans who need government support, criminals, and anyone else who is a drain on the struggling economy. These “Detainees” must completely fend for themselves on the island and it is a particularly desperate struggle for the older people and the children to survive because they are preyed upon by a ruthless population of criminals. That is the society where Clancy (a Detainee otherwise known as The Big Guy and the protagonist of the story) tries to mind his own business and avoid confrontations. However, The Big Guy (even at age 63) is not the kind of person to tolerate violent treatment, no matter how big or how many depraved miscreants come after him. This book is narrated by Clancy, and through his thoughts and actions, the reader becomes very well acquainted with him and the small group of friends that he tries to help. Plenty of heinous violence and lots of suspenseful action will engender much empathy and sympathy in the reader for Clancy’s group. Surprisingly, the story also reveals much compassion, ingenuity and bravery in Clancy and his small group of friends. The Detainee by Peter Liney is a very well-written, fascinating and gripping novel. I thought it was great. ( )
  clark.hallman | Mar 23, 2014 |
Dystopians seem to be all the rage these days, but if you're hankering for one that sets itself apart and that is not a Young Adult novel, then boy do I have a gem for you.

The Detainee is set the distant future, where society as we know it has basically collapsed, the economy and infrastructure in tatters. The population is kept in line by security satellites in the sky, constantly watching. Do something against the rules and -- ZAP! -- you're either disabled, dying or dead, depending on the severity of your crime. But if you're a troublemaker, the authorities would sooner just throw you away than deal with you. Anyone who represents a burden is unwanted, dumped onto The Island like the rest of the Mainland's garbage.

But what makes this book stand out is the main character Clancy, also known as "Big Guy" on account of his huge size as a youth, a trait that gave him such an edge as a former mafia goon. He is also sixty-three. With people living longer and longer these days, I don't know if I would really call that "old" but the point is, Clancy certainly identifies himself as elderly. So, that's a bit different. I don't often come across stories told from the point of view of someone "aged" (for the entire duration of the book) and I thought Clancy's position as someone who has watched the "good old days" turn gradually into the hell they live in now -- piece by piece and slippery slope by slipperly slope -- is a very unique perspective.

Clancy is an involuntary resident of the Island, because those who are past their prime are seen as nothing more than takers and freeloaders. Elders in this society are not revered but instead treated like scapegoats for the system's collapse, along with the sick, the poor, and even children. There are many young people at the Island too, many who ended up there because their parents chose abandoning them over being cast off themselves. These kids are rounded up and manipulated by the Wastelords, who use a regime of drugs and abuse to create a brutal child army, which they set against the old people who live in the village.

Like I said, this is not your teenager's YA dystopian. In an ironic twist, the youth are the enemy, the face of death to Clancy and his friends. Their village becomes a bloody battlefield whenever the fog rolls in, because that's when the kids come raiding, knowing full well their activities are obscured from the gazes of the uncompromising satellites.

Powerful and provocative, you can practically feel the weight in Peter Liney's writing. The Detainee paints a hollow, painful existence for everyone living on the Island, for while the book is told in first person from Clancy's point of view, we find out later on that things are just as bad if not worse for the young people at the Camp. Instead of focusing on a single age group, the author has taken things further to explore the unpleasant effects of a dystopian society across multiple generations. But the novel is also hopeful and inspiring; even in a world of misery, Clancy forges several unlikely relationships that give him reason to carry on. In time he learns when it comes to love and suffering, age is just a number, and that everyone longs for freedom the same way.

What you'll find here is a compelling story about adaptability, compassion and courage. Clancy is a very interesting narrator, with the experience of his years behind his character, and who utlimately discovers you are never too old to surprise yourself. I could be wrong, but I think The Detainee is a stand alone novel, and it reads perfectly fine as such. I would have liked to see more from the story about its world's history and background, but in any case I found the book thoroughly enjoyable. Perfect for fans of dystopians who are looking for an exceptional novel to dive into. ( )
  stefferoo | Mar 17, 2014 |
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When the fog comes down and the drums start to beat, the inhabitants of the island tremble: for the punishment satellites - which keep the tyrannical Wastelords at bay - are blind in the darkness, and the islanders become prey. The inhabitants are the old, the sick, the poor: the detritus of Society, dumped on the island with the rest of Society's waste. There is no point trying to escape, for the satellites - the invisible eyes of the law - mete out instant judgement from the sky. The island is the end of all hope - until 'Big Guy' Clancy finds a blind woman living in a secret underground warren, and discovers a reason to fight.… (more)

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